Russians funding U.S. anti-fracking groups?

Darn those Russians and their meddling in American politics! No… I’m not talking about the 2016 elections, at least not quite as directly. There have been recent allegations that Russia has been “meddling” in another area entirely which hasn’t received nearly as much media attention for some reason. A couple of House committees have been looking into claims that the Russians have been funding environmentalists who push anti-fracking, “keep it in the ground” campaigns aimed at shutting down fossil fuel development in the United States. And thus far they haven’t received much cooperation. (Free Beacon)

The Treasury and State Departments have failed to respond to open records requests seeking “certain correspondence and related records discussing Russian funding of environmental pressure groups’ advocacy in the United States,” according to lawsuits filed today against Treasury and Monday against State.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R., Texas), who chairs the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, and Rep. Randy Weber (R., Texas), chairman of its energy subcommittee, sent a letter dated June 29, 2017, to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asking him to “conduct a full and complete investigation” into allegations the Russian government has been funneling tens of millions of dollars into U.S. environmental groups to support misinformation campaigns aimed at suppressing U.S. natural gas development.

The investigation is looking into a couple areas of meddling here. Part of it is the usual Russian troll farms looking to stir up activists and get them to oppose fossil fuel production. But the more serious charge has to do with the Sea Change Foundation in San Francisco. Their mission statement claims that the group is working to “address the serious threats posed by global climate change, and primarily focuses on climate change mitigation and clean energy policy.”

Sounds like pretty standard fare for liberal groups, right? Fair enough. But the question here is where their funding is coming from. The investigation seeks to find out if Russia has been funneling money through a shell company in Bermuda and into the coffers of the Sea Change Foundation. If so, that would represent some actual, significant meddling in U.S. energy policy.

It’s funny how you don’t seem to hear much about this on CNN, isn’t it? But assuming the allegations are correct, would anyone really be surprised? It seems to be the “conventional wisdom” these days that the Russians are only interested in helping Donald Trump and the Republicans, but that’s hardly the case. Putin and his buddies will push anything which helps their own interests. In this case, the growing dominance of the United States in the global natural gas and oil markets are a direct threat to Russian energy exports.

With that in mind, it would be the most natural thing in the world for Russia to want to help American activists who want to shut down our fossil fuel energy production. We’ll need to see more proof before reaching a conclusion, but if they’re shipping millions of dollars into American lobbying groups through some offshore fund, we’ll need to know about it.